BHA offer fast-track dope tests for Newmarket runners

POSTED ON  |  12-10-2020

The British Horseracing Authority said on Monday that trainers with runners at the valuable Future Champions meeting at Newmarket this weekend will be offered elective, fast-tracked dope tests on their horses if they have any concerns that a post-race test could be positive for the banned substance zilpaterol.

Zilpaterol, a synthetic drug for fattening beef cattle before slaughter, has an anabolic effect and could act as a performance-enhancer in thoroughbreds. It is prohibited at all times under the Rules of Racing. Traces of zilpaterol were initially detected in urine samples from racehorses in France last week and quickly linked to products made by the company Gain Equine Nutrition.

Ireland’s champion trainer, Aidan O’Brien, and his sons, Joseph and Donnacha, all of whom had used Gain products to feed their horses, were forced to withdraw fancied runners from Longchamp’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe card on Sunday after independent tests proved positive for the drug.

The BHA’s move is aimed at avoiding any repeat of the spate of withdrawals in Paris when attention moves to the Rowley Mile in Newmarket this weekend. Aidan O’Brien’s entries at the two-day meeting include St Mark’s Basilica, who was scratched from Sunday’s Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, in the Group One Dewhurst Stakes, as well as Battleground, the winner of the Group Two Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in July and the 6-1 third-favourite for Saturday’s race in early betting.

In an update to trainers on Monday evening, the BHA said that elective tests will be “processed and prioritised in order of race entry”, and that while zilpaterol “is a category A prohibited substance” and trainers are strictly liable for all banned drugs in a horse’s system, “samples submitted will not be used by the BHA for regulatory purposes”. 

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